tv PBS News Hour PBS January 8, 2014 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: former defense secretary robert gates' upcoming memoir is already causing a stir, shedding new light on decisions that shaped america at war. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. and i'm gwen ifill >> ifill: also ahead this wednesday: a progress report on eliminating syria's chemical weapons as the first batch of toxic munitions leaves the regime's hands and heads out at sea. >> this administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in america. >> woodruff: fifty years after president lyndon johnson's call to arms.
we look at the progress that's been made and what still needs to be done. >> part of the problem is that not only do we have people who are poor and unemployed, we have so many people who are employed and poor. >> we've done well on the safety net part, but not well on helping people achieve success in america. >> woodruff: those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: there's a saying around here: you stand behind what you say. around here, we don't make excuses, we make commitments. and when you can't live up to them, you own up and make it right. some people think the kind of accountability that thrives on so many streets in this country has gone missing in the places where it's needed most. but i know you'll still find it, when you know where to look.
>> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ifill: today, much of the u.s. began easing out of the deep freeze that's claimed 21 lives since sunday. temperatures in the midwest and east pushed into double digits, but still stayed well below freezing. that kept many school districts, including indianapolis and detroit, closed for a third day. in western new york, residents
were under a state of emergency after 36 inches of lake effect snow fell overnight. the blizzard closed parts of two interstates and led to a travel ban. >> ifill: the state of utah will not recognize same-sex marriages performed since december 20, at least, not for now. governor gary herbert announced the decision today. it affects roughly 1,400 couples who married after a federal judge struck down utah's ban on gay marriage. the u.s. supreme court has put the judge's ruling on hold while the state appeals. >> ifill: the white house today rejected criticism criticism by former defense secretary robert gates. in a new memoir, he says the president wasn't committed to the afghan war, and that vice president biden was wrong on nearly every key issue. in an apparent show of support for the vice president, officials invited news photographers into the leaders' usually private weekly luncheon. and, spokesman jay carney followed up.
joe biden has been one-of-the leading statesmen of his time and he has been an excellent counselor and advisor to the president for the past five years. he's played a key role in every major national security and foreign policy debate and policy discussion in this administration, in this white house. >> ifill: carney also dismissed the afghan war criticism. he said: "the president believes thoroughly in the mission." we'll talk to a "washington post" reporter who's read an advance copy of the gates memoir, right after this news summary. >> ifill: the number of countries with the ingredients for nuclear bombs has dropped by almost a quarter in the last two years, to 25. the nuclear threat initiative reported today that seven more countries have given up all or most of their weapons-grade material since 2012. the advocacy group also found the u.s. ranks number 11 of the
25 nations on nuclear security. >> ifill: prime minister nuri al-maliki vowed to eradicate al- qaeda in his country, as the army prepared to assault militants holding the city of falluja. in a national broadcast, maliki also hinted at the possibility of amnesty for any gunmen who surrender. >> i call upon all those who are involved or who have been lured to take part in the terrorism machine lead by al qaeda to return to reason, and we will open a new chapter to settle their case. >> ifill: tribal leaders in fallujah also urged the al-qaeda fighters to leave, and a special u-n envoy warned food and fuel supplies in the city are running out. the same al qaeda group came under new attack today in syria by rival rebel groups. activists reported a coalition of other fighters captured the main al-qaeda base in the
northern city of aleppo. the infighting could pose even greater security problems for teams rounding up syria's chemical weapons. we'll talk to the special coordinator of that effort, later in the program. >> ifill: new york state moved today to legalize medical marijuana on a limited basis, the 21st state to do so. democratic governor andrew cuomo announced an executive order to let 20 hospitals dispense pot for victims of cancer and several other diseases. cuomo previously opposed legalization, but came under political pressure to reconsider. last-minute business helped boost holiday sales 2.7% from a year earlier-- not counting online business. the data firm "shoppertrak" reported today it was slightly better than expected, in part because of heavy discounts. the number of shoppers who actually visited stores fell more than 14%. and on wall street today, dow jones industrial avg. down 68.20 at 16,462.74. the dow jones industrial average lost 68 points to close at 16,465. nasdaq index up 12.43 at
4,165.61. the nasdaq rose 12 points to close at 4,165. still to come on the "newshour": robert gates' war stories; signs of progress in the destruction of syria's chemical weapons; a call to overhaul school discipline; the war on poverty, 50 years later; plus, a new bipartisan push to invest in the future. >> woodruff: as secretary of defense for both presidents george w. bush and obama, robert gates oversaw critical moments in the iraq and afghanistan wars. he would emotionally address the troops in the field. but back home showed a stoic public face. gates opens up about his frustration with the presidents he served and the congress he had to testify before in a new book, "duty: memoirs of a secretary at war" he writes of one meeting in 2011 with mr. obama and general david petraeus, who then commanded military forces in afghanistan: >> as i sat there i thought: the president doesn't trust his
>> woodruff: we expect to interview the former defense secretary next tuesday, but for now, we turn to washington post staff writer greg jaffe, who covered robert gates and has read an advance copy of the book. greg jaffe, good to have you with us. >> thanks for having me. >> woodruff: so you did get the book early and you covered him for his entire five years under both presidents. what mainly stands out in this book? >> well, the thing that stood out to me most was just the emotional told that the wars took on him and that the casualties took on him. are you really get an unvarnished sense of that. and we could see it in
glimpses covering him. i wrote in the review of the book that i did about one of those kind of glimpses. but to really see it and hear it in his own voice kind of page after page is striking. and it is a burden that you could tell he still carries with him today and seems to be sorting through in this book. >> woodruff: and? fact, i think you said in your review, the book reads in a way like an extended therapy session for him. >> yeah, i kind of felt that yeah, yeah. in the sense that it can be a little bit sefer contradictory t kind of doubles back on itself. on the one hand if he think if he had given himself more time and distance it would be a more rational book, maybe a better argued book. but there is a power and emotion to writing it when he did, you know, it's really-- it does read like a therapy session at times. >> woodruff: and you write not only the contradiction of himself, and the reviews of other people. on the one hand he praises president obama for being decisive, for being -- >> courageous. >> woodruff: bold to make the decision on osama bin laden and then on the other
hand, as we just heard, really being hard on him of his handling of afghanistan. >> i thought that thats with an example of an argument that he doesn't quite deliver as well as he should on. you know, he criticizes the president for not believing in the strategy. but also conceives that it was a courageous move to back the surge and that it was a politically unpopular move so it's not completely rational to me. the president doesn't believe in it. why does he do it. and part of what i kind of wondered was, i mean it seemed at types that guts felt like the president, his frustration with the president is that the president doesn't feel the same passion, the same sense of-- the same consuming guilt at times. and that therefore he must be missing something. >> woodruff: and gates of course had spent a lot of time or time when he could with the troops himself, when he was over there. >> certainly. and certainly spent almost every night as his tenure as secretary of defense writing condolences, a task he took with great seriousness.
>> woodruff: you also wrote you said you can't imagine between president obama and president george w. bush too more-- two more different men, what does he say about president bush. >> he's very complimentary of president bush, this is my recollection of it. he does concede that when he joins the bush administration, president bush has been president for six years. and that is, you know, a different mind-set. but he is very-- he's very quick to praise president bush's decisiveness. and his passion, particularly with regard to the iraqi surge. he describes him as sort of having no second thoughts be on that surge nor on the iraq war overall. and that's something that i think gates finds commendable. >> woodruff: congress is very tough. is that from having to go testify as often as he sdns i think so, sort of the devicive political nature of congress today. you know, i i think he longs for a day of 2k3wr5e9er bipartisanship. but i think part of it is just his own personal frustration that he is so
engaged in these wars and i think he is just frustrated with congress that they don't feel the same, again, they don't feel the same passion, the same commitment that he does. >> woodruff: and his really tough comment about vice president biden, he has been wrong on every foreign policy. >> for four decades. >> woodruff: for four decades. >> yeah, it's interesting on that, though, this is where i-- the therapy session stuff comes in. he's critical of biden on that, he's very critical of biden for suggesting that there is discord between the president and the uniform military by sort of subjecting the president to chinese water torture, he calls it. that you can't trust your generals. but then at the end of the book, he also kind of comes around and says well, on iraq there really wasn't that much difference between my position and biden's position. you know, maybe 10,000 troops. and yet i should have done more to build bridges rather than be as defenlsive as i was. >> woodruff: finally, how does he judge himself. >> you know, that's a good question. i think he sort of-- that's why i thought he is kind of
wrestling through it i mean he is critical of himself in the book and it's written in his voice. he didn't use a ghostwriter in t it's clear. and i mean that in a good way, in a sense that it sounds like him. and it feels like him. and i think he is still wrestling through with that. he's very proud of the iraq surge. but i think he does feel a certain amount of guilt from the suffering that the war has caused. >> woodruff: greg jaffe with the washington most. and as we mentioned, we'll be talking with former defense secretary robert gates next tuesday, thank you. >> yeah, thank you. >> ifill: chemical weapons are finally being shipped out of syria. but getting the stockpile of raw materials for poison gas and nerve agents destroyed has proven to be a uniquely complicated challenge. >> ifill: even as chemical weapons leave syria,
the deadly, conventional war continues. outside damascus today, men rushed to rescue children trapped in rubble after an air strike blasted a house. more explosions in latakia province, where military helicopters buzzed overhead, dropping possible barrel bombs. miles away, in the port city of the same name, chemical weapon ingredients are arriving from across the country, brought by russian armored vehicles. but fighting has slowed the shipments, which were supposed to begin last month. a danish ship finally departed yesterday with the first batch, nine containers believed to hold about 700 metric tons of precursors for creating mustard and sarin gas. >> we're happy to see that there is finally movement. >> ifill: today, the group overseeing the effort, the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons noting the delay, urged the syrian regime to pick up the pace. >> certainly we are exhorting the syrian government to
intensify its efforts so that we can conclude this critical part of this mission absolutely as fast as the conditions allow. >> ifill: under a u.n. plan, naval vessels from a number of countries will escort the chemical agents to an undisclosed port in italy. there, they'll be transferred to a u.s. navy ship, "the cape ray". it's been outfitted with a special chamber that heats chemical agents and renders them inert. the u.n. has given syria until the end of june to destroy its chemical arsenal and everything associated with it. >> ifill: joining us to assess the challenges that remain, is sigrid kaag, the special coordinator for ridding syria of its chemical weapons. thank you for joining us, it seems to me the challenges are military, they are diplomatic, they are logistical, let's start with the military challenge. how are you manning to get these chemical weapons out of syria when the country is still at war with itself? >> absolutely. i mean the security challenge is the way i would
describe it, of course s twofold, is the conditions in country overall what hinder access for us as joint mission staff, forverification and inspection, but also pose an imminent threat to the safety and security-of-any convoy. yesterday was the first such convoy of containers from two different sites, for transportation as you just described in the program. however the situation remains very volatile. and the security is the overall responsibility of the-- for public t with be a hindrance and can pose an ongoing tremendous risk both for the operation as well as for ourselves as staff. >> ifill: would a cease-fire be helpful or even possible? >> obviously a cease-fire's ultimately is very desirable. i think also from a human-- perspective to have access. what has often happened is that on a practical, by arrangement basis it is feasible that armed opposition groups may be advertised that a joint mission staff need to be in the area. and if obviously there could
be a temporary ses says of facilities, the government of course needs to do its utmost to secure both the sites at all times to avoid any of the chemical agents falling in the wrong hands. and at the same time also secure the safety and security of joint mission personnel who come from both-- and the u.n.. hence the name the joint mission. >> ifill: how many countries are we talked about involved in this? >> oh, it's quite a huge and unique international effort. if you look at just the sheer donation site in terms of logistics or other physical items that are needed for packing, loading containers, a lot of european countries, united states, russian federation, people republic of china, denmark and norway in terms of the vessels. but a lot of other countries have donated financing as well. and of course when we're looking at the the construction side that taked place, the vessel, the k brave but also the-- many
other countries are involved it is unique t is also unprecedented. and as you just highlighted it is not without challenge. >> ifill: you mentioned a moment ago about the cooperation of the syrian government itself. and earlier today you described it as constructive. you can elaborate on that? >> yeah, construct sieve a term we've used from the beginning. the secretary-general has often referenced that as well. and it's basically a reflection of how the corporation has been going from the day the joint mission was established and the mandate was given also by the security council. at all levels we work at a technical level at a more political level, my level, looking at problems, advancing solutions, but always making sure that we from a joint mission perspective keep our eye on the ball which is very timely, safe and secure elimination of the chemical weapons program it requires a lot of investments by the authorities, staff time, they need to secure the roots, they need to make sure the convoy does take off. packaging and obviously readiness for transportation. yesterday, for instance, we know my team was there, of
course, we saw that the whole area had to be secured. the port authorities are involved. many, many other national staff members in syria are also engaged in this effort. so cooperation is measured in many different ways. it's very practical, very tangible. >> when you talk about we removing these weapons, first what kind of chemical weapons what kind of munitions are we talking about and how do you then destroy them? >> actually, the types of reference i'm not privy to discuss because actually we are bound by confidentiality agreement. syria has declared its chemical weapons program including its arsenal to the ocbw. and all this is governed by a confidentiality agreement. so hi will speak on the generics. we all know from media reports that there are the worst kind, and then there are those products that if combined can do terrible and inflict horrible harm on human beings. there are, however, sort of the separate types of products. the destruction takes place in two ways. the worst possible kind of chemical agent will be taken to the u.s. vessel it will
be destroyed. the re-- reactive it-- reactive mass that remains after destruction will be taken off the ship again and will be transported to different countries who-- companies who have tendered for commercial destruction. and the second category of chemical agents which will also be transported out of country can actually head straight towards different companies who have successfully obtained the tender to basically destroy them by normal commercial route. and that happens a lot of the time as chro the world. we just don't know about it. >> we know that this is supposed to be completed, at least that was the deal, by june is that going to happen? >> that's the intent. and i think it's certainly our ambition level and also in my briefing today with the security council, it was very clear that the council expressed a collective desire and wish to see this program completed in a safe and secure manner, and in a timely manner. and all things being equal, security conditions in country, of course, being the big unknown at any given
point in time. i think we have all reason to believe that the program can be completed as planned. >> sigrid kaag at the u.n., thank you so much within thank you. >> woodruff: the obama administration made a big move today on the question of school discipline policies around the country. it issued new guidelines to urge school administrators to ensure they are not being overly zealous with strict punishments for students, that are sometimes called "zero tolerance" rules. the deparments of education and justice warned schools to make sure they are being fair and equitable and that they are complying with civil rights laws. two years ago, the newshour's tom bearden looked into a story in texas that was drawing international attention to the unintended consequences of such policies, often for minority students.
>> 17-year-old diane tran is still up set after spending 24 hours in jail for missing class. the 11th grade honor student in willis, texas was locked up for contempt of court after being warned by a justice of the peace to stop skipping school. the judge who issued that warning in april sentenced her to jail last month when the absences continued. >> if you heat one of them run loose, what are you going to do with the rest of them. let them go too? >> but after houston's khou reported her story, the international spotlight fell on tran and texas's school truancy laws. laws that were originally crafted in the mid 19th century to keep kids if class, and prevent parents from pulling them out to work in the fields. and then later in factories. but for students like tran, life is more complicated than it used to be. she is a straight a student who holds down two jobs in order to help support her younger sister and another sibling in college. >> the judge has warned me about missing too many days
of school. but i just couldn't help it. >> tran says that schedule lead to more than ten unexcused absences in six months which under texas law can warrant criminal class c misdemeanor charges, fines up to $500 and potentially jail time. after the news spread, the judge ended up removing the citation from her record. but the case sparked a new debate about the merits of criminalizing student behavior. >> woodruff: the new guidance calls for clearer distinctions about the role of safety personnel and making sure school administrators handle routine discipline problems instead of turning them over to law enforcement. hari sreenivasan, in our new york studio, explores the potential impact of the guidelines. >> sreenivasan: we get two views. sherrilyn ifill is president of the naacp legal defense fund. and chester finn is president of the fordham institute, which focuses on the reform of elementary and secondary education. >> woodruff: the how big of
a problem is this? what is the administration reacting to with these guidelines? >> well, the administration today really took the important step of recognizing what is a wide spread problem. what we saw in the clip is just the tip of the iceberg. not only in texas but in states throughout this country. we litigated a case in brian texas where students can get a class c misdemeanor ticket for using profanity in high school. and this essentially then leeches students with a record and puts students on that school to prison pipeline that we talk about. this whole idea of discipline, of changing what used to be in fractions that got you sent to the vice principals office and criminalizing them has essentially introduced the criminal justice system into our schools to the detriment of our children. and so what the administration really did today was to acknowledge this wide spread problem, to take responsibility for investigating the results of knees problems and really trying to provide a framework for schools to think about how they can
find alternative means to deal with what a real issues discipline problems in the schools, to train police-- to train school police to train teachers, to train counselors, to know how to deal with the problems that cause students to misbehave in school or in the case of the student we saw, to miss scale. >> what about this that there is this school to-- and we are overdisciplinizing the behavior. >> a lot of it can be dealt win side the school there are also a lot of pipelines into prison not just from will skoos. there's pov the, there's gangs, there's neighborhoods, there's bad parenting, there are any number of things that contribute to prison. and if all that the administration had done was to offer school guidelines on how to handle discipline better, this probably would be a positive step. but there's a huge iron fist inside this glochlt and it's in the joint guidance from the justice department and the education department saying if you pinnish some
kids mohr than you punish other kids and cannot prove that you did not intend to discriminate we're going to come after you and dings you as schools or school systems this is fundamentally a civil rights enforcement step of the kind that is ultimately going to weaken discipline in our schools at a very time when things like newtown ought to have-- seeking better order in our schools rather than discouraging school systems from enforcing discipline. >> miss ifill are there two different types of targets. >> absolutely, hard to imagine how discipline in the schools what have changed what happened in newtown. we're talking about out of school suspension for children who disrupt the class or who are using profanity or who are called insubordinate. in maryland, in the 2011, 2012 school year, 675 kindergarten students were given out of school suspensions for infractions like using foul language or
not respecting the teacher. this is what we're really talking about. the school shootings are absolute tragedies. and absolutely have to be dealt with and addressed in terms of safety. but the issue we're talking about is discipline as it relates to student within the schools. and we shouldn't overreact or misguide our reaction to the tragedy that happened in newtown by tighten will the vice of discipline in the schools. and criminalizing discipline in the schools. and that's why these guidelines are so welcome. it's absolutely true this is a civil rights enforcement issue and it is an important issue because the disproportionate burden of this harsh criminalization of discipline falls on minority students, falls on african-american students, falls on latino students and as we saw in the clip that you show, falled on asian american students so, some of what is uged is in the guidelines and suggested by the department of justice today is the training for school personnel to even understand how they're doing what they do. they're not going to come in
and sue the school district. the first step, they say, explicitly in the guidelines is to work with schools to try and find a voluntary means of using alternative measures to deal with discipline problems. >> mr. fenton what about the notion that secretary duncan impressed upon everyone over and over again, that they're looking for locally developed approaches, that there isn't one blanket policy. is it possible? >> well, what they've done is to discourage locally developed remedies by setting forth so many norms and requirements and documentation obligations. and data gathering requirements that the practical effect of this in our schools and school systems is going to be to deter school systems from developing workable discipline policies that ensure that the kirds who do behave are going to be able to sit in orderly classrooms, hear their teacher and do their homework. so i think arne duncan's
words are exactly right. that i think that the effect of his and the attorney general's actions is going to be precisely the opposite. >> what about this idea that we've heard from teachers saying you know what, sometimes getting a student out of the class is the only way that i can try and retain any semblance of order in the class that it really would prefer to outsource this i'm not a security professional. i can't deal with all of this. >> you know, in cases of violence, no one is suggesting that you don't need school police number fact, we're not suggesting that you shouldn't have them. there is a difference between a student who is violent and a student who uses profanity or a student who can't sit in their seat or a student without doesn't show up for class. and, in fact, actually, the very opposite happened of what mr. fin said. in fact, arne duncan and the administration based a lot of their ideas for the guidelines today on the experience of what happened in baltimore city. where organizations like osi baltimore and the advancement project worked with the school system to try and change the school discipline code to get rid
of out of school suspensions. and a lot of the suggest pes-- success is in baltimore. that is the reason why they held the announcement there today, really impressed the administration. and that's why they've empathized the idea of local changes. because they were impressed with what happened in one american city that figured out how to bring down out of school suspensions by working with the school district. >> mr. finn what do you think could attack some of these intense disparities even between states or even within districts for why some schools and some students are suspended so much more often than others? >> well, what won't-- is 20 pages of gotcha guidance from the justice department and the education department which is part of what the administration released today. what will tackle them is both education of education personnel and school safety personnel. there is no doubt about that. and advice as to what a good discipline policy looks like, all of which is excellent. but at the end of the day
it's the people that run our 50,000 school-- sorry, 50,000 student school district that have to come up with these policies. and it's the principals of schools with 800 or 1800 kids in them that have to know how to enforce these. and fear of uncle sam is not going to make them do a better job it is going to kill their able to do any job at all in this realm. >> chester finn and sherrilyn ifill, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> ifill: today marks 50 years since the united states declared a war on poverty, but victory has not yet been declared. kwame holman has the backstory. >> reporter: when president lyndon johnson took the stage for his first state of the union address, the nation still was mourning the loss of president john kennedy, assassinated seven
weeks earlier. >> let us carry forward the plans and programs of john fitzgerald kennedy, not because of our sorrow or sympathy, but because they are right. this administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in america. >> reporter: at the time, one in five americans were living in poverty, and many of them were concentrated in the south- central mountain towns of appalachia. the president and his wife ladybird toured those impoverished communities. they met with families of unemployed sawmill operators in kentucky, and tobacco farmers in north carolina, many living in
shacks without plumbing or sanitation. attorney larry levinson worked with president johnson during the 1960's to create legislation for the great society reforms. >> what was surprising was where poverty was in america. who were the poor? and the first thing we noted was that four fifths of americans that were poor were white americans. bill", and based on the data we had, we were able to go to congress and convince a lot of the folks that were nay-sayers in the congress you're not dealing necessarily with a racial issue. >> reporter: president johnson signed a $947.5 million dollar anti-poverty bill into law in 1964, later that year. it included head start, which began as an eight-week-long summer project for some 500,000 pre-school aged children from low-income communities. it has since expanded to a year- round program serving 30 million children and their families. the law also created vista, the
domestic version of the peace corps, along with other job training and education programs. >> there are those fearing the terrible darkness of despairing poverty, despite their long years of labor and expectations, who will now look up to see the light of hope and realization. >> reporter: the following year, 1965, president johnson enacted reforms to social security, and a guarantee of health insurance for the elderly and the poor through medicare and medicaid. the official poverty rate has dropped since johnson's era. but still there are some 50 million americans, 13 million of them children, living below the federal poverty line. that is set at less than $12,000 a year for an individual, just more than $23,000 for a family of four. >> ifill: so, 50 years later, how effective was the war on poverty? jeffrey brown has more.
>> brown: and for that we're joined by his torian robert dalleking among his many books, flawed giant lynn don johnson 1961 to 1973. angela blackwell founder of c.e.o. and policy link, a poverty focused research organization and glen hubbard chairman of the council of economic advisors under president george w. bush and now dean of columbia university's school of business and welcome to off you. robert dahl , i want to start with you to set the scene. what drove lbj to undertake a war on poverty it. >> well, he wasn't the first one to want a war on poverty. in fact, what i find so interesting is herbert hoover in august 1928 said no country in the world was closer to abolishing poverty than the united states. and then of course we had the great depression. in 196 -- 1962 a man named michael harrington whos with a socialist, part of the democratic catholic workers
movement published a book called the other america, poverty in the united states. it has had a great impact. >> well, what really gave it a great impact was the fact that dwight mcdonald, the critic, then published a discussion of it in "the new yorker" called a reviseable poor. and that created this sense that america has a problem. and john kennedy when he was in west virginia for the prime area in his-- primary in his struggle to win the nomination for presidency, he got a firsthand glimpse of the suffering, the difficulties that people had in that state. and in 1963 he was talking about having the war on pov the in the second term. so after he died, the counsel, the chairman of the counsel of economic advisors walter heller said to lyndon johnson, kennedy was talking about a war on pov the. an johnson said that's my kind of program. >> and what was the country
that johnson was-- when this started, how serious was the state of poverty? >> it was serious there was something like 22% of the population which was living under the poverty line which as i understand it, in time was something like $3,000 for a family of four. and johnson, he wanted to typical of johnson, there was a kind of overreach. he wanted to cure poverty. and abolish it forever. now he knew this was going to be quite a struggle because how do you deal with 22% of the population that's under the poverty line. and so he gave that famous speech, state of the union, part of the state of the union that he was declaring a war on poverty. and then the struggles began, how do you do it. >> brown: all right, let me bring in our other guest, angela blackwell, you first from the perspective of 50 years, what was accomplished, do you think what was
it-- in many ways the war on poverty was very successful. it really brought in programs like head start and food stamps and things that really kept a lot of people out of poverty who otherwise would have been in poverty. so our poverty level now actually represents the progress that we've paid by creating a platform, that are you not supposed to let people fall under. we made progress but poverty continues to be a huge problem in this country. and part of the problem is that not only do we have people who are poor and unemployed, we have so many people who are employed and poor. the economy is failing america. and the suffering and the poverty that we're seeing now both reflects safety net programs that have been tattered, and an economies that's not serving the american people well. >> all right, and glen hubbard from your 50 year perspective, you have another take on this, right? >> well, i think the war on poverty has had some success. certainly poverty among the elderly has declined sharply over this period. and in fact, poverty would
have been much worse without the programs and the war on poverty. you can, of course, look the other way and say that we're about where we were when we started in terms of the official poverty measure, but other researchers say we are doing a bit better. to me the real issue is could we have done better still. and i think the answer is an obvious yes, that we've done well on the safety net part. but not well be helping people achieve success in america. a better example of that is things like the earned income tax credit. to help provide jobs and rewarding work, that's really the best war on pov the. >> so just to continue that, with you glen hubbard, was that a failure of economic vision, of the theory of the war from the beginning, how do you see that? >> i think it was incomplete. i think the war was strong on safety net t did have programs like head start, like upward bound that were part of empowerment. but i think we need a much
larger focus on education, on training, on skill development. and yes, some things like the eitc that support people in the workforce. >> brown: angela blackwell, dow want to come back in. >> i agree with everything that was just said. and we need to focus on this problem of inequality. we have had growth in america. it only benefits one part of the population, we need to really focus on how to grow good jobs, increase the minimum wage, bring greater voice to workers. we need stronger unions. and we need to dot thins that glen just talked about in terms of preparing young people for 21st century work, for the economy of the 2 1s century. and let's not forget that the shifting demographics and people of color quickly becoming the majority in this country, we need to remove racial barriers, make sure people who have been incarcerate kd get work. we need to deal with low income communities that are holding people back. so many people are poor because they live in communities that aren't connecting them to work and
opportunity. we need a big agenda that actually focuses on building an economy for the 21st century that includes everybody. >> let me bring robert dahlq back in, you wanted to jump in at something you heard, huh? >> these were the same frustrations that lyndon general son felt in 1968 as his presidency was coming to an end. he wanted the program to be a hand up, not a hand out. and was frustrated by the fact that a central part of the program was called community action, cap, community action program. and it opened up also to political battles between local officials, mayors, city council people and people who are involved in the community. and johnson was frustrated by the fact that there wasn't enough in the way of education. enough providing skill its to people. see, his model was the national youth administration which he had been the head of in texas and roose investment's idea that you give people skills, training so that they can find work and get out of that limitation.
>> it is striking, i mean, let me bring you back in, glen hubbard, striking that a lot of these same issues are now very much still on the talk and back on the table, right. questions of economic inequality, and raising the minimum wage. there are the kinds of debates that have on this program where you and angela blackwell might disagree on some of the policies. but you are still agrees that something more needs to be done. >> these are huge issues. and something definitely needs to be done. i guess i would not think the things like supporting higher minimum wages are the answer. i don't think that provides employment. we do need to support skills for people coming in. and we need to support their incomes, things like the earned income tax credit. if we as a society want to provide better opportunities for work, we need to pay for it. neither side of the aisle is in my view bold enough on this. >> go ahead, angela blackwell. >> yes, if we raise the minimum wage to $200, 5 million people will be
bought out of poverty. people who work should not be poor. >> i agree with that, why use the minimum wage to do that as opposed to the earned income credit. this is something as a society if we warrant this, we should pay for it. not in terms of job loss for others, or higher prices, or lower profits. this is something we ought to pay for. >> robert, you listen this and you are saying these were debates that were-- that johnson would have been familiar with. and they've gone through time. >> and he would have been pleased, i must say, to understand, to see that there is a debate again about this. >> he would have been pleased. >> he would have been pleased, he would have been unhappy that poverty wasn't abolished but he would have been pleased that it has come back into focus and that people are recalling his war on poverty 50 years later. because i think your other two guests are absolutely right this is something that's front and center and we need to deal with it in this country.
>> brown: all right, we on the program will continue all of these issues and debates. robert dallek, angela blackwell and glen hubbard, thank you all very much. >> thank you, thank you. >> thanks. >> ifill: so who counts as poor? we examine the official and alternative methods of measuring poverty, online on our "making sense" page. 48) finally tonight, a conversation about rebuilding the country's roads, bridges and other critical components as seen through the lens of american competitiveness. >> woodruff: it seems that infrastructure investment rarely captures national attention until there's a tragic failure or accident. such as the 160-foot chunk of washington state's skagit river bridge that suddenly gave way in may. the deadly 2007 collapse of the 1-35 bridge spanning the mississippi river between minneapolis and st. paul.
and the historic failure of new orleans' levee system during 2005's hurricane katrina. but some experts say the problems are exacerbated by a lack of investment that can leave the nation's transportation, communications, and energy networks outdated and unreliable. still, there's been more investment in the years since the recession began, the most prominent being president obama's 2009 stimulus bill. the "american recovery and reinvestment act," as it was called, allocated $150 billion to a wide array of public works while the stimulus fund has expired, the president has continued to press congress for more spending. >> we still got too many roads that are in disrepair, too many bridges that aren't safe. we don't have to accept that for
america. we can do better. we can build better. >> woodruff: but some lawmakers, like house speaker john boehner, resist spending more, unless it's paid for... >> it's easy to go out there and be santa claus and talk about all these things you want to give away, but at some point, somebody's got to pay the bill. >> woodruff: now, a bipartisan advocacy group, including former new york city mayor michael bloomberg, former pennsylvania governor ed rendell, and now former transportation secretary ray lahood, is pushing policy actions to address infrastructure needs. among their recommendations: passing a long-term transportation bill; establishing a national infrastructure bank to fund freight and other industrial projects; and consideration of gas or mileage fees to fund building and maintenance. still, the challenge ahead looms large. we look at the realities and real questions surrounding these projects with two people who are making the case for it. as we just heard, they are both with the group, "building
america's future." former governor ed rendell, a democrat and former transportation secretary ray lahood, a republican and longtime congressman who was named co-chair of the group today. welcome to you both. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: so governor rendell to you first, what mainly is the problem that you want to fix? >> we want to revitalize the nation's infrastructure. we did a report a few years ago that said falling behinding falling apart. our infrastructure is literally falling part, you see it as bridges collapse, pipelines burst, it's old, it hasn't been revitalized in a long time. we need it for public safety, to stay economically competitive. and it's the best jobs program in america. >> woodruff: help us understand, secretary lahood why the american people should care about this. >> america has always been number one in infrastructure. when we built golden gate bridge, the hoover dam, the interstate system over 50 years, we put friends and neighbors to work. this is an opportunity to stimulate the economy, to
get people back to work, and to continue to try to be number one. we're not number one in infrastructure any more. we're number 16. we're way behind. and we can put a lot of people to work improve our economy, and improve our infrastructure. if we get behind a big, bold plan to fix up america's roads and bridges and other infrastructure. >> woodruff: governor rendell, whose responsibility is it to fix all this? and how much what is the price tag. >> it's all about responsibility-- it's all of our responsible. it's the federal government, stated government, local government and the private sector. the thing of it is, the great financial wizard estimates that there is almost 300 billion dollars in european and chinese money willing to come in and invest in rebuilding the american infrastructure if we can create the right vehicle. it's a huge problem. the american society of civil engineers says we've got to spend in the next eight years 3.6 trillion and in the pipeline is 1.6 trillion. so we have a 2 trillion
deficit where. is the money going to come from. it's going to come from a lot of sources including the prave at sector. we have to do something about the gas tax or vehicle miles travel tax. we've got to be realistic about that. we've got to create an infrastructure bank that can do credit enhancements that will allow more money to flow into the system. we've got to do it all. >> woodruff: but secretary lahood, why can't the private sector and state and local governments it do most of this. why does the federal government have to have a big role. >> we need somebody to provide the lead there is not enough money in the states or in any city to do what they have to do in terms of building roads or building bridges. these are costly projects. we've always been the leader at the national level until more recently. you need somebody to take the lead to provide the kind of resources that then can attract private dollars as governor rendell said, also state dollars, also local dollars. somebody has to be the leader in this. and it has to be a national leader. at one time we were a national leader, and now
we're not. >> governor rendell what about-- you hear this argument all the time. that once the federal government gets involved in a big project, you see cost overruns, you see waibs, you see things just that were supposed to go in an orderly way end up going off track and taking a whole lot longer and costing alot more. >> it's not to happen. first of all the recent transportation vote did change some of the regulations and speed up some of the regulatory framework, that's a plusment but secondly, if you look at stimulus, stimulus got a bad name in general. but the infrastructure part of stimulus worked very, very well. pennsylvania got a billion dollars for its roads an highways, we created 24,600 plus jobs with that billion dollars. we repaired bridges and roads, thanks to stimulus and money that i put in, state money i put in, we went from having 6 vi00 structurally deficient bridges to 4500. but think of that, that's huge progress, but we still have 4500 structurally deficient bridges any one of which can collapse.
>> you hear these numbers and taking what you're saying, still secretary lahooding i was reading today some critics that were say well, a lot of this is hyped and they were going back and pointing to examples that both your organization, building america's future, has used. other organizations and used and they're saying it's not really as bad as they say it is. >> judey, america is one big pothole. we went from number one to number 16 in infrastructure and improving infrastructure. anybody who lives in a city or a state knows the roads are crumbling. there are potholes there are deficient bridges. and in the country people get this, and past referendums time and time again to fix up their roads and bridges, we need some of that vision here in washington to say we need to dot same thing. >> how much are you asking for from the federal government, governor rendell, and also how can you ask the-- expect the congress to appropriate this kind of money when they are already
looking at significant requests for extending unemployment benefits, doing something about food tamps, for example, doing something about-- i think you could say essential needs like that, how can you then turn around and say well, we really need to put the money into highways. >> this is essential. it's essential for public safety. how many more bridges do we have to have collapse on us. it's essential for the economy. tell me any other venture where we can produce literally hundreds of thousands of well paying jobs that are middle class jobs, 50, 60, $70,000 a year. i will give you an example of what the secretary was talking about. there are as you know the panama canal is being deepened and these supertankers are coming through. when they unload they create long shoreman jobs and trucker jobs that are again well paying jobs. but only two of mark's 12 eastern shore, eastern shore ports are ready to receive them because we haven't done proper dredging. so those ships are going to go to canada. and the jobs are going to be produced in canada, not the u.s. >> what about secretary
lahood. we heard speaker boehner say this sell all well and good but we have to found a way to pay for it. where is the money going to come. >> we need to raise the gas tax which has been the part of money that has been the stimulus to help states and city does these big projects. it hasn't been raised since 1993. we need to raise it i say raise it 10 cents a gallon, index it, so that we have the kind of resources here that can be matched with private state and local dollars. >> and do you think the american people are ready to support something like that. >> it's interesting. they vote consistently to approve referendums on money for a bridge, money for revited allizing the port. the difference here is they don't have confidence in the government. but the government has got to spell out how many jobs will be created, where the major projects are going to be and what the upside is. if they do that, look, no business in this country has grown successful without investing in its own growth. same goes for us. >> all right, the organization is building america's future.
bipartisan, republican former secretary ray lahood, former governor ed rendell, we thank you. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. bitter arctic cold finally eased its grip somewhat in much of the country, after claiming at least 21 lives since sunday. and the white house rejected criticism in a new memoir by former defense secretary robert gates. he writes that president obama wasn't committed to the afghan war, and vice president biden was wrong on key issues. on the "newshour" online right now: from jet packs to wolf guts, science is fun when you get to see it in the works. we've rounded up some of the best youtube channels for budding biologists and physicists, on the rundown. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org.
and that's the newshour for tonight. on thursday, we'll look at how a doctor well versed in poetry can better treat patients. i'm judy woodruff. and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs "newshour", thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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>> and now, "bbc world news." the united nations warns of humanitarian disaster in the central african republic. we are in one refugee camp where tens of thousands are sheltered from the fighting. the white house fires back at robert gates after a new book that said the president did not believe in his own afghan strategy. 10 wind power be the answer to china's energy needs? it is a lovely idea, but there might be one hitch in the idea. >> on a day like today when there is not much wind, it hardly works.